Spence Green

التكرار يعلم الحمار

I work at Lilt. In addition to computers and languages, my interests include travel, running, and scuba diving. more...

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Andy sent along some additional pictures from Oman. These differ from the rest in that I appear in them. So far I have been loathe to pose before this rock or that animal; such contrivances make me feel stupid and maybe a little Japanese. I haven’t traveled much over the past month, electing instead to prepare for the Africa trip this summer, dive, and practice Arabic. The latter has improved and I can now speak without thinking. Yesterday, for example, Anita (my teacher) asked if I could drive well and I responded, “Yes, much better than all of the Emiratis.” The half-inch mortar board walls at the school failed to confine that opinion and we subsequently heard laughter in the adjacent room. Later, I saw several Emiratis walk out.

A coworker also taught me some naughty words last week. Now if you are learning a language, you must know the patois early on. Otherwise, you could commit unintended indiscretions. For example, in Arabic, “hamam” means bathroom and “hamaar” means [large mule-thing]. Suppose I’m at the restaurant:
“That ravioli looks delightful. Does it come with a salad?”
“Of course. Which dressing?”
“The vinaigrette. By the way, do you have a [large mule-thing]?”

Arabs are usually congenial and would understand the miscommunication. But in a place like France, this behavior would likely inspire a riot.

In other news, an Arab friend called me last weekend and said, “Let’s go play football. Do you have shoes, etc?” Sure, I said. That is, I had gear by the next afternoon. I haven’t played since age 6, but I figured that I could at least kick the ball and play defense. We went to a small turf field (quarter-size, I think) and we played pick-up with some guys from the best football club in the country. I managed the situation for about ten minutes and then the ball came right toward me. I didn’t think; I grabbed it. Never have I seen such laughter in my life. A fat man in the corner had a bout of tachycardia. For the rest of the evening they wouldn’t let me near the ball. Each time I approached it, one of them ran up screaming, “Hello, Captain” and took it from me. The next evening, my friend had to apologize for not bringing “the professional.”

Written by Spence

April 10th, 2006 at 11:46 am

Posted in UAE

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